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NEW JERSEY — Legislation requiring people to wear masks in New Jersey stores is one step closer to becoming law.

A Democrat-proposed bill got the stamp of approval from a New Jersey Assembly committee Thursday.

If passed, customers could be fined between $50 and $500 for being in a business without a mask that covers both your nose and mouth. This would apply to any store that has posted signage saying masks are required.

Assembly Democrats who backed the bill called the legislation “a matter of life and death” and said there needs to be a penalty for those who don’t do their part to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Republican lawmakers are calling the bill ludicrous and an attack on residents’ civil liberties.

Some suggest it would be better to just have businesses refuse to serve customers without masks.

Hoboken tried to pass a similar mask ordinance in August, attempting to fine people $250 for not wearing a mask any place where they can’t social distance. It ultimately did not pass.

In New York City, MTA riders can now be fined $50 for refusing to wear a mask on buses, subways and trains.

As of midnight in Connecticut, you can now be fined $100 for violating mask and social distancing orders. Gov. Ned Lamont signed the executive order just two days ago.

If the new bill is passed into law, it would be in effect until the public health emergency and New Jersey’s state of emergency are over.

The bill now moves to the Assembly speaker for additional consideration.